QUICK GLOSSARY OF DATABASE TERMINOLOGY
PAL, v.3.3, is powered by the DataPerfect database engine. An understanding of database terminology is therefore useful in using PAL.
1. DATABASE -- A store of information (data).
2. DATA -- Raw facts and figures which are processed into information. In common
usage, the terms "data" and "information" are used synonymously.
3. DATA ENTRY -- The act of entering data into the computer (includes barcode
scanning as well as keyboard entry).
4. DATA ELEMENT -- Any unit of data defined for processing, for example: "Name",
"Address", "City". It is defined by size (in characters) and type (alphanumeric,
numeric only, date, etc). Technically, a data element is a logical definition of data,
whereas a field is the physical unit of storage in a record. For example, the data element
"ID number" which exists only once, is stored in the "ID number" field in one record,
as well as the "ID number" field in other records.
5. DATA STRUCTURE -- Physical layout of data, such as text "memo" fields, fixed length
fields, variable length fields, records, etc.
6. DATABASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (DBMS) -- Software that controls the
organization, storage, retrieval of data in a database. Some DBMS's are the following:
"DataPerfect", "Access", "Paradox", "Alpha 4", etc.
7. DATAPERFECT ("DP") -- A DBMS developed by WordPerfect Corporation, later acquired by Novell Corporation and made freeware by Novell..
8. RELATIONAL DATABASE -- As distinguished from a "flat-file" database, a DBMS
that allows for relationships between more than one database within it. In DP each
separate "database" (or "file") is called a "panel". In many other DBMS's they are
9. FIELD -- Smallest unit of information in DP.
10. RECORD -- A group of fields that contains related information. For example,
records that contain library patron information may contain fields for the patron's name,
address, phone number, etc.
11. FILE -- A file is the largest unit of data in a database. A file stores the records that
contain similar information.
12. PANEL -- In DP, the records in a file are displayed through a panel, a viewing area
on the screen which makes the file more readable. Each file in each database has its
own panel. Panels define where the fields in each record appear on the screen.
13. MENU -- A list of choices
14. LINK -- DP uses the terms "data link" and "panel link" to describe the links that
form relationships between panels. They both allow you to move to other panels without
having to exit the current panel.
15. INDEX -- A sorted list, comprised of selected fields, that is used to locate records.
16. REPORT -- Reports let you print data from a database, send data to a disk file, and
perform many other useful tasks.
17. FIELD FORMAT -- Designates the size of a field and the way it is displayed and
printed, and also determines the type of data a field accepts. Examples: A Alphanumeric
field (such as "A15"); D date field; G numeric field; T time field; U same as
alphanumeric except all letters are converted to uppercase.
18. FORMULAS -- Formulas are created and placed on fields to initialize field
values, calculate field values from other data, manipulate dates etc.
19. FUNCTION -- Used in formulas to perform operations on data. It looks at
one or more "arguments" (usually fields or report variables) and returns a single result.
Examples: "cat.c[arg1;arg2; . . .;]" concatenates two or more character strings;
"Today" returns the current date (if system clock is accurate);
"substring[arg1;arg2;arg3]" returns a character string (eg substring["215 Oak Lane,
Hartford, CT";15;8] returns the value "Hartford".
20. LINK -- Associates related information from two panels in the same database.
Quick Glossary of Database Terminology